Covid19 : Melbourne extends lockdown as cases of Delta variants spread
Five million people in Australia’s second-largest city will remain under stay-at-home orders for at least another week after authorities extended a lockdown Wednesday after failing to curb Melbourne’s latest Covid outbreak. The city entered its sixth pandemic lockdown last Thursday after a fresh Delta variant cluster emerged at a Melbourne school and quickly spread.
Victoria was plunged into its sixth lockdown since the pandemic began on Aug 5, just weeks after exiting its last. Victoria state authorities lifted restrictions in regions outside Melbourne earlier this week after a slowdown in new cases.
Victoria state Premier Dan Andrews confirmed strict stay-at-home orders for Melbourne will remain in place until at least Aug. 19 after authorities were unable to trace how several of the 20 people confirmed as new cases on Wednesday contracted COVID-19.
The spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus from Sydney into regional areas of New South Wales state which had 344 cases on Wednesday has forced another Australian city into lockdown.
Dubbo, a city of about 50,000 people some 240 miles from Sydney, is the latest to have stay-at-home orders enforced for at least one week after two cases of the infectious variant were detected, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. Meanwhile Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, extended its lockdown for another week.
Australia has so far fared much better than many other countries in the developed world during the pandemic, with just under 37,000 COVID-19 cases. The death toll rose to 944 on Wednesday after two people, including a man in his 30s, died in Sydney.
But with fewer than 25% of the country fully vaccinated, Australia is struggling to avoid stop-start lockdowns that some warn could tip Australia’s economy, the world’s 13th biggest according to the International Monetary Fund, into a second recession in as many years.
Federal and state governments have committed to ending lockdowns when 70% of the country’s near 26 million population is vaccinated.
Before the emergence of delta fueled infections, the nation used strict border controls and rigorous testing to eliminate community transmission of the virus. Now, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in a race to ramp up a tardy vaccine rollout in a bid to start reopening international borders next year.